Des conseils de carrière
Social media refresher
The online tools academics
may find useful
by Shannon Rupp
hen it comes to making a foray into
social media, the first question novices
should ask themselves is, “What do I
want to achieve?” That’s the advice of
Are you hoping to connect with journalists
or a general audience on your way to becoming
a public intellectual? Do you want to network
with others in your field and expand the audience for your research papers? Are you using
social media for research?
Answering those questions will tell you
which combination of social media platforms
will serve you best. Here are the main platforms
you might want to explore.
Semi-private social media
Facebook remains the juggernaut among networking sites, with 1. 7 billion users logging in
monthly. However, there is a trend to semi-private social media, including direct messaging
apps, particularly among younger audiences.
To meet that demand, Facebook offers the
Messenger app and private discussion pages.
Anyone can moderate a private page and they’re
popular among teachers who want to create an
online space for classes, or professionals who
want to focus on industry issues.
But the hot social medium of the moment is
Snapchat. The direct messaging app overtook
Twitter in popularity this year and has about
150 million daily users, compared with Twitter’s
Snapchat began in 2011 as the relaxed, fun
app where users didn’t have to curate their photos since the “snaps” – photos or short videos –
have a shelf-life of a few seconds. But its popularity with the under-25s has attracted news
outlets and advertisers, and so Snapchat has an
increasing amount of public content. More than
half of its users are between the ages of 18 and
34, making it a good place for young academics
to connect with peers.
Slack, another messaging app, began in 2013
as a business tool that lets remote workers stay
in touch with offices all over the world. But it
wasn’t long before Slack communities sprang up
around interests, ideas and professions.
Moderating a Slack channel is an efficient
way to keep in touch with others in your field
and discuss current research or highlight your
own. There’s also the option for private chat
rooms and a search function for conversations,
which makes it ideal for remembering shoptalk.
Looking for a stepping stone to help you become
a public academic? Radio’s online cousin is a
warmer, friendlier form of audio that serves spe-
cialty interest audiences and invites conversa-
tions between host and listener.
A good example of a podcasting academic is
Hannah McGregor, an assistant professor in pub-
Wlishing at Simon Fraser University. She hosts a semi-regular podcast on Harry Potter from a scholar’s perspective. Blogging
Blogging may seem antiquated now – Google’s
Blogger platform launched in 1999 – but Word-
Press and Tumblr (which is ideal for photo-heavy
blogs) still have huge audiences. And Medium,
with its simple white-page format, is a first choice
for technophobes with text-heavy blogs, making
it the site to launch many a rant-gone-viral.
Micro-blogging can be an end in itself or used
as a tool for distributing your blog, podcast or
video channel. Twitter, with its well-established
hashtags, makes it easy to find those who share
your interests and it can be a useful research tool.
While it has a not-quite-fair reputation for being
superficial, everyone appreciates tweeters who
post useful articles or who tweet the highlights
of conferences and events.
The old adage about a picture being worth 1,000
words is never so true as when talking about
Instagram. Which could be why the micro-blogging site has almost three times Twitter’s daily
users. It’s a natural fit for those in visual disciplines – fine art, dance, or architecture – looking
for a wider audience. But if you have a knack for
storytelling with pictures, it can also tell the tale
of your field research or experiments.
Shannon Rupp is a Vancouver-based journalist who frequently
writes about new media and
technology’s impact on culture.
“ Social media can enhance
an academic career,
provided you choose the
right tool to serve your
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